Iowa State of Mind: HYT Partners with Major U.S. University

Posted on August 14th, 2017

When HYT graduates arrived at Iowa State University (I.S.U.) campus in Kamuli, Uganda, they were not greeted by the flurries of students, society gatherings and introductory seminars that might be expected. A troop of monkeys larking around in the trees was the closest thing to student life in the area, and the only learning taking place was how to leap safely from one branch to the next. That’s because construction had not yet begun. It was HYT’s job to build the campus’ hallowed walls, and to do so with as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible.


Iowa State University Top Wall

As HYT’s construction manager at Iowa State University site, Johnny has been tasked with constructing the walls!


I.S.U.’s campus in Kamuli is to be an agricultural training centre, where rural farmers and their families can learn how to grow food more effectively and sustainably. It makes sense for HYT, as recent award winners in sustainable building, to take part in the project, ensuring that construction doesn’t spell destruction for the local environment.


Iowa State University Wall

HYT is committed to low-impact, high quality construction across all of our projects.


The first semester, typically for HYT, began with making blocks for the wall which, like the rest of the campus, has been expertly designed by Studio FH Architects, and skilfully managed by Dudley Kasibante & Partners Ltd. Once the manual press arrived from Makiga, red marram subsoil, dug from the site itself, was mixed with sand and a little cement to make compressed earth blocks (CEBs). These are more conventional, cuboid versions of HYT’s innovative interlocking stabilised soil block (ISSB). The masons may have been CEB freshmen when they started the project but, as seniors in sustainable construction techniques, it didn’t take them long to study up and master this new challenge.


Iowa State University CEBs

The manual press moulds strong, consistent compressed earth blocks, unlike traditional firing methods.


In fact, the group has taken to the new method like a college rowing team to water, making as many as 500 blocks in a day, and a total of over 30,000 during the course of the project. Manufacturing the same amount of fired bricks, the traditional building material in Kamuli, would require 42 tonnes of firewood, or more than ten mature trees!


Iowa State University Blocks

Block production went through the roof in the early stages of the project!


Curing bricks, rather than firing them, is a great way of avoiding deforestation, but it’s not the only one. Every tree on the ISU campus has been numbered and, where possible, preserved in its original position. Project Manager Johnny Nsubuga is particularly proud of where the wall has moved to accommodate the existing foliage. His conscientious approach to building proves that you don’t need to move mountains to protect the planet, only a few bricks.


Iowa State University Tree

Johnny demonstrates where he has adjusted the wall to preserve the tree behind him.


The term is not yet over for HYT masons at the Iowa State University campus, and they are committed to maintaining A-grade construction throughout. Until the campus comes to life as a centre for education and innovation, HYT will continue to work diligently and create an accommodating environment for the site’s future inhabitants, as well as its current ones!



Iowa State University Building Line

Johnny supervises the building line at Iowa State University’s Kamuli campus.

10 Youths Trained at HYT’s 10th Community Training Site

Posted on July 28th, 2017

The successful completion of HYT’s 10th ‘One Community at a Time’ training project was celebrated in style, with the opening of an impressive range of buildings and the handing out of certificates to the ten HYT trainees who built them. HYT training manager, Fred Koire, oversaw the eight-month training programme, and the youths at St. Stephen’s primary school, Butaaya, are now equipped to use their newly-acquired masonry skills with HYT and elsewhere.  

St. Stephen's Classroom Door

An HYT certificate opens the door to professional masonry opportunities in Uganda.


St. Stephen’s is a school of 400 or so pupils, in rural Kamuli District, where large numbers of boys drop out to cut sugar cane, while the pregnancy rate among girls remains high. Enhancing infrastructure encourages students to stay at school, and providing staff accommodation means that teachers do not have to walk to work in the rain (or heat!) and are more readily available to support their students. The large and enthusiastic audience at the ceremony included community leaders, local head teachers and the Vice Chairman of Kamuli District, representing the Speaker of Parliament. They were told of the benefits of an environmentally-friendly approach to construction, and encouraged to adopt the interlocking stabilised soil block (ISSB).


St. Stephen's Compound

All HYT buildings, including water tanks, are built using low carbon ISSB technology!


And how better to recommend the technology of East Africa’s future than with the spectacular workmanship of the community’s youth? This particular project gave trainees the chance to demonstrate their artistic flair thanks to the generous support of two Haileybury houses and lower school.


St. Stephen's Staff Block

The community gathers to admire the Lower School staff accommodation.


Lower School’s donation funded the staff house, improving working conditions for teachers and upping the trainees’ experience in all sorts of construction skills, from excavation to completion.


St. Stephen's Water Tank

Special mention goes to OHs Coralie Spearman and Katie Brooking for their expert artistry!


Kipling’s water tank offered trainees the chance to work with specialised curved blocks, and provided the school with 20,000L of water storage! That means more time in class, and less time fetching water from the community borehole.


St. Stephen's Classroom Block

The children are proud of their skilfully constructed and uniquely decorated school.


This year’s Batten Bistro raised enough funding to outfit this double classroom block with doors, windows and security bars, as well as plastering and painting. Trainees were keen to celebrate Haileybury’s contributions with panache, and relished the opportunity to hone their decorative skills across all the buildings.


St. Stephen's Training Team

Quite a team has been assembled here at St. Stephen’s, Butaaya!


The result? Ten trainees have become graduates of HYT’s training programme, empowered to become builders of the future. St. Stephen’s primary school now has three sturdy new structures to enhance its learning environment, helping kids get the most out of their school day. A big HYT thank you goes out to trainers, trainees, and the hugely supportive communities both here in Uganda and back in the UK!